Having first encountered Fictonian via ‘social experiment’ I’d Like To Be, I must confess to approaching this review with some trepidation.
A series of vox pops set to tape loops, over some admittedly dazzling animation from collaborator Alden Volney, I’d Like To Be initially left me cold.
Out of context, it seemed like an experiment that had not achieved the desired results.
However, having now had the opportunity to listen to new album Desire Lines and become fully immersed in Fictonian-world, I have to say I’ve been completely won over.
The product of the imagination of multi-instrumentalist Glen Roberts, this is an album that’s wonderfully difficult to pigeonhole.
Sounding both vintage and modern, it could have been recorded at any time over the last 40 years.
Occasionally reminiscent of the wistful psychedelia of The Kinks or The Small Faces, at other times it reminded me of the sly, lilting melodies of The Lilac Time or early Aztec Camera.
Yet none of these comparisons are fair or apposite, because this is an artist who creates and inhabits his own universe.
His songs are multi-layered and dreamlike – hazy, partially-remembered stories or snapshots from an unreliable narrator.
There are barbs too between the enticing sensual guitar and piano melodies, Roberts employing fairground organs to hint at the nightmare beneath the bucolic mood.
The video to latest single Mrs Jones (see below) is a kind of metaphor for the whole album, a beguiling maze where nothing is quite as it seems and a wrong turn could lead to disaster.
In a rare comment about his methods, Roberts says he engages a particular mindset or ‘Fictonian state’, when working on new material and he invites his audience to do the same.
Once you become absorbed in Fictonian-world, even experiments like I’d Like To Be start to make sense.
If you’re in the mood to dive in, I’d strongly recommend a visit to the Fictonian website http://www.fictonian.com/home/.
An astounding debut, from one of the most original artists I’ve come across in a long time, Desire Lines is out on November 13, though Distiller Records.